SuperSeniors Champions

SuperSeniors Champions are well known New Zealanders who are outstanding advocates for an age friendly society.

Minister and SuperSeniors champions

Seniors Minister Maggie Barry, Dame Malvina Major, Precious McKenzie MBE, and Dame Kate Harcourt.

Seniors Minister Maggie Barry says the Champions are inspirational role models who embody the ideals of positive ageing.

"With our society ageing and becoming more diverse, having prominent New Zealanders advocating for older people has never been more important," says Ms Barry.

"By raising awareness of seniors' issues the Champions can help change attitudes towards age."

A Champion is someone who:

  • actively demonstrates the valuable contribution seniors make
  • embodies positive ageing through their positive attitudes and actions
  • can celebrate the achievements and address the opportunities of an ageing population 
  • is aware of central matters with regards to ageing in New Zealand
  • will be an articulate spokesperson for positive ageing and seniors

Seung-jae Yu QSM

Sung-Jae Yu

His love of the Korean language, culture and history, as well as a desire to see younger generations keep traditions alive, drives this SuperSeniors Champion to contribute to the community.

Seung-jae Yu, QSM, heads up the Korean school's board of trustees.

There are more than 250 students who attend each Saturday to learn Korean, traditional fan dancing and tae-kwon do. 

 

Nanette Nathoo QSM

Nanette Nathoo

Extending a helping hand to somebody in need is second nature to Nanette Nathoo, QSM, a SuperSeniors Champion who is passionate about creating safer communities.

The hospice volunteer and business owner is working with Auckland Police to devleop videos, workshops and safety messages.

She has recently faced her own share of very difficult times.  

Jennie Sew Hoy QSM

Jennie Sew Hoy, QSM, Champion

Jennie Sew Hoy QSM has always been involved in contributing to the community, from volunteering for school ski trips to organising the Chinese New Year Charity Gala Ball.

She joins her husband Donald Sew Hoy as a SuperSeniors Champion, the first couple in the Champions’ programme, which sees high profile New Zealanders advocate for positive ageing.

The husband and wife team are committed Rotarians of more than four decades of standing.

Donald Sew Hoy QSM

Donald Sew Hoy solo

For many years, Donald Sew Hoy QSM and his wife Jennie have organised a Chinese New Year ball and raised funds for Starship Children's Hospital and Ronald McDonald House, among others.

The clothing manufacturer and importer, who regularly travels to China, will not divulge how old he is.

"I do not want age to be a limit, I do not want people to think I'm over the hill."

Dame Kate Harcourt DCNZ

Kate in front of bookcase

"When I think about it, I'd sooner not be young again," says Dame Kate Harcourt, DNZM.

"I think of the painful moments, the disappointments and the failures.  I remember the delights, the triumphs, the passion in the past, and I am deeply contented with the present."

Dame Kate says "Ageing is not for sissies".

Her advice is to stay involved with many people and participate in what you love, which for the actor, singer and former teacher, is the arts.

Lance Girling-Butcher QSM

Lance Girling-Butcher outside (Wellington).

Former newspaper editor Lance Girling-Butcher QSM is a tireless advocate for the disabled and older people in the Taranaki region.

Around a decade ago, he lost his sight after an operation and then went through a mourning process.

"I used to lie on my bed at night and think of all the things I wouldn't be able to do."

He says he eventually realised "I had to get on with life and think positively."

Sir Jon Trimmer KNZM, MBE

Jon Trimmer as Petrouchka

A love of performing keeps Sir Jon Trimmer, KNZM, MBE, on stage with the Royal New Zealand Ballet, and there are no plans to retire.

"It's a wonderful thing to be able to still perform.  I'm very, very lucky. 

"As a society, we need people from all ages - that's what makes a society, doesn't it?" 

The dancer, actor and performer cannot imagine walking away from the stage.

Dame Malvina Major ONZ, GNZM, DBE

Dame Malvina Major in green dress

Dame Malvina Major, ONZ, GNZM, DBE, is a mentor to many aspiring opera singers through her foundation which offers talented artists an opportunity.

“My mother drummed it into my head that you’re talented, you’ve got to get out there and work, and that record still plays in my head.

"I guess, in a way, it’s why I’ve worked as hard as I have.”

Dame Malvina says "I think it's hugely important you keep engaged in your community with whatever your interests are."

Peter Chin CNZM

Peter Chin

Former Dunedin Mayor, Peter Chin CNZM, has had some time to reflect on his life after he had a heart attack on a flight.

"I was on a plane from Dunedin to Wellington and I collapsed on board just as the plane took off. 

"When things like that happen to you, you reflect back and think, what is life all about?"

Mr Chin says there's no right or wrong way to live your life.

"I think so often, people do things or make decisions on the basis of what [others] think."

Margaret Austin CNZM

Margaret Austin in blue

Margaret  Austin CNZM is almost as busy now as she was throughout her long political career.

The Christchurch resident is on a number of boards and also enjoys keeping active and fit.

Ms Austin says the devastating earthquakes pulled the community together but there are still some people who are socially isolated.

"I've come to the conclusion we can't allow people to feel this degree of isolation." 

Peter Hayden

Peter Hayden in the garden

Actor, writer and producer Peter Hayden is known for Wild South and Journeys Across Latitude South 45, among other series.

He says he's now enjoying getting back on stage, and is surprised how ageing has provided him with a lot of unexpected opportunities.

"I'm loving the new challenges and I think that's one of the things for positive ageing.

"It's about finding new challenges - I am absolutely curious about life, everything I do is wonderful and new."

Precious McKenzie MBE

Precious McKenzie side view

Leading aerobics classes, as well as rowing, swimming and continuing to lift weights, is all in a day's work for Precious McKenzie MBE.

"Fitness is the key of everything I believe in.  Exercise, no matter how little, is very important. Health is your wealth."